It’s a few days late but last Saturday’s Herald story about Air New Zealand preparing strikebreakers for the Zeal 320 strike this weekend depressed the hell out of me.
What exactly is our national carrier, which is more than 80% publicly owned, doing boasting about how it can break its own workers?
Let me be clear that I am not naive, of course a business is going to try to ameliorate the effects of strike action but to talk about it so openly and boast about how well trained their strike breakers are shows an astounding arrogance.
Strike action is the final option for most workers, especially low paid workers like these. It only comes after they are given no other choice by their employer and it hurts all parties involved.
The deal with the Zeal crew is that they are employed by a holding company, Zeal 320, that Air New Zealand owns and that company has an agreement to staff Air New Zealand flights. They are the only employees of Zeal 320. Every one of their managers is employed by Air NZ.
The result of this arrangement is that they do exactly the same work as Air New Zealand workers while the company can keep them separate from the much better pay rates and conditions of Air New Zealand workers.
And it’s the only reason I can think of that would exempt the airline from the fact that employing strikebreakers from outside is illegal under the Employment Relations Act.
This cynical use of a legal fiction to undercut workers’ pay and conditions is bad enough behaviour from the so-called national carrier but boasting about how they plan to keep this arrangement in place by strikebreaking? That’s disgraceful.